By: Sean Crose
I’ve been writing for this publication for over ten years now…and 2023 was, without doubt, the strongest of all those years. Technically, I shouldn’t be using the word “was,” because here in Connecticut we still have almost nine hours before we slip into 2024. Still, since there’s no more major bouts to be had until the next calendar year, I’m going to go with the past tense here. What a year 2023 was for the sport, though! There were major fights – some of which actually were pay per view worthy – incredible performances, and some thrilling throwdowns.
And while there were undoubtedly downer moments to be had, even the loss of Showtime couldn’t take away from boxing’s upward trajectory these past twelve months. What’s more, 2023 is leaving the sport loaded for a promising 2024. With Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk set to fight in February, and Devin Haney in serious talks to face Ryan Garcia, the coming year looks to be headed in the right direction. Naturally, this being boxing we’re talking about, disappointments will certainly arise, just as they did in 2023. Big matches won’t get made, cherries will be picked, and potentially major fights will be pushed aside in order to make room for social media smack talk.
And yet the overall momentum begun this past year is likely to remain unbroken in 2024. The reason for this is rather simple: After a true dry spell, one where ambition itself became unfashionable, boxing has returned to a place where daring to be great is something to be encouraged. Terrance Crawford faced Errol Spence in 2023, Naoya Inoue faced Stephen Fulton, Garcia faced Gervonta Davis, David Benavidez met Demetrius Andrade, and Katie Taylor battlef Chantelle Cameron for the second time – those were all matches that could have been avoided by safety first fighters. Fortunately, fighters looking for easy touches in 2023 seemed to be becoming less prominent.
Here’s hoping such unambitious fighters change their tunes in 2024 by taking chances. If 2023 taught us anything it’s that boxing is far more exciting when name fighters actually risk losing. Let’s keep in mind in 2024, however, that major fighters who suffer a loss or two shouldn’t be written off. That sort of thing leads to the kind of safety first muck the sport was stuck in for so long. Besides, boxing is loaded with stories fighters coming back after defeat(s) and attaining glory. Often, it all has to do with the mindset.
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